Preparation and delivery of protein microcrystals in lipidic cubic phase for serial femtosecond crystallography

Andrii Ishchenko, Vadim Cherezov, Wei Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Proteins (MPs) are essential components of cellular membranes and primary drug targets. Rational drug design relies on precise structural information, typically obtained by crystallography; however MPs are difficult to crystallize. Recent progress in MP structural determination has benefited greatly from the development of lipidic cubic phase (LCP) crystallization methods, which typically yield welldiffracting, but often small crystals that suffer from radiation damage during traditional crystallographic data collection at synchrotron sources. The development of new-generation X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) sources that produce extremely bright femtosecond pulses has enabled room temperature data collection from microcrystals with no or negligible radiation damage. Our recent efforts in combining LCP technology with serial femtosecond crystallography (LCP-SFX) have resulted in high-resolution structures of several human G protein-coupled receptors, which represent a notoriously difficult target for structure determination. In the LCP-SFX technique, LCP is recruited as a matrix for both growth and delivery of MP microcrystals to the intersection of the injector stream with an XFEL beam for crystallographic data collection. It has been demonstrated that LCP-SFX can substantially improve the diffraction resolution when only sub-10 μm crystals are available, or when the use of smaller crystals at room temperature can overcome various problems associated with larger cryocooled crystals, such as accumulation of defects, high mosaicity and cryocooling artifacts. Future advancements in X-ray sources and detector technologies should make serial crystallography highly attractive and practicable for implementation not only at XFELs, but also at more accessible synchrotron beamlines. Here we present detailed visual protocols for the preparation, characterization and delivery of microcrystals in LCP for serial crystallography experiments. These protocols include methods for conducting crystallization experiments in syringes, detecting and characterizing the crystal samples, optimizing crystal density, loading microcrystal laden LCP into the injector device and delivering the sample to the beam for data collection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere54463
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Volume2016
Issue number115
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 20 2016

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Keywords

  • Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • G protein-coupled receptor
  • Issue 115
  • Lipidic cubic phase
  • Membrane protein
  • Sample delivery
  • Serial femtosecond crystallography
  • Structural biology
  • X-ray free-electron laser

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)

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